Saint Bernard's Shark
Should you encounter one of their kind, it is always best not to panic. Not only would you startle this otherwise peaceful and innocent creature, but you could also get yourself killed by trying to fight back.There are not many sharks as well-known as the Saint Bernard's sharks, or red sharks as they are officially called. A sighting of a red shark is generally considered to be a good luck charm by sailors, even more so since it is rather uncommon — increasingly so in the Old World. The reason? Well, Saint Bernard's sharks rarely attack humans unless provoked first. In fact, some people claim to have been saved from other predators by the red sharks, or even helped to a safe place. Most commonly, those stories involve crew members from sunken ships. At the same time, almost all of the recorded attacks involved sailors that were at the moment hunting sharks — any sharks — with many stories told about sailors who were attacked long after engaging in such activities. Naturally, that led to the whole idea of hunting sharks to be heavily discouraged among many crews, prompting some to give the red sharks a new name — that of a "guardian shark". But there is more to their behaviour than that.
Me and me maties once saw a whole bunch of 'em take on a Kraken... they kept bitin' entire parts off of him. Me swear to God, ne'er saw a fight this fierce before!On numerous occasions, recorded and confirmed by the church authorities, Saint Bernard's sharks were seen fiercely attacking and chasing away monsters and magical creatures. Sometimes, they would even gather in large numbers to do so, despite their solitary nature. At the same time, red sharks are rare to be seen in the places where the Gracious Wind is strong. As a result, the official position of the church is that Saint Bernard's sharks are natural enemies to all things magic, and that is the main reason why they inhabit the regions most exposed to it.
Physically, red sharks appear to be mostly similar to their tiger shark kin. As hinted by the name, their skin is fairly reddish except for the white belly, a colouration that makes Saint Bernard's sharks rather distinct from all other sharks. However, there are clearly more differences between the two species than it seems. During their bursts of activity, red sharks can reach a speed on par with that of mako sharks, although not for long. They also vary greatly in size, from 2-3 metres to upwards of 10 metres long, with some sources (including Saint Bernard himself) claiming to have seen specimen of no less than 15 metres long. The cause of such a tremendous variation was always a subject of many debates. In his diaries, Saint Bernard suggested that red sharks may be gifted with exceptionally long life, centuries even, and can keep growing throughout it, meaning that a shark's size is directly tied to its age.
Ecology and Habitats
Based on their skin colour and many observations, it is strongly suggested that red sharks spend most of their time on a considerable depth. They are seldom seen searching for prey near the water surface, and do not seem to be very interested even in wounded animals and humans. Most likely, the only biological reason for these species to ascend from their preferred habitat is to warm up their bodies, or at least so the modern-day science assumes.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Saint Bernard's sharks live mostly in the seas of the New World. It is hard to track their population since red sharks seem to be highly solitary and move across larger distances on a regular basis. In addition, most of the time they stay hidden on a depth too deep to be seen from the surface, only coming out when attracted by ships passing by. In that case, the sharks can be seen due to the red-coloured fin that can be easily spotted when they come to the surface. There does indeed seem to be more red sharks' appearances in the areas with the weak influence of the Gracious Wind, around the Windless Haven in particular.
Them sharks be smarter than half of me crew!Saint Bernard's sharks are believed to be very intelligent. Many eyewitnesses have commented on the well-coordinated attacks they are capable of when in groups, and red sharks appear to have some way of communicating among them as well. Moreover, their habit of slowly swimming around a large area is often compared as if they were patrolling it. From there, comes a name "patrolling shark", originally given by Saint Bernard in his early notes. However, nowadays the term is mainly used to describe the whole family of sharks exhibiting such behaviour. Saint Bernard's sharks are also naturally curious. When they encounter something new, they would swim around it for a while, trying to understand what it is. It is this moment that caused most of the unfortunate encounters between a red shark and a human, for some sailors would panic and fight back, thinking the shark is out to attack them. At a little surprise to anyone, humans are rarely the ones that come out victorious in such fights. However, if a person stays calm and does not attempt to attack the shark, it soon swims away. Sometimes, red sharks even allow humans to touch them, as long as they make no threatening moves.
Saint Bernard of TrottierA priest from the mainstream Church of Three Prophets, Saint Bernard has spent much of his life at sea. Setting sail for the first time as a military ship's chaplain, he soon decided to dedicate most of his efforts towards converting the New World's natives into what Bernard considered to be the one true faith. Zealous and brave, Father Bernard had sailed aboard many ships including (allegedly) some of those owned by pirates, as long as it helped him fulfil his goal. During one of those voyages, Bernard had a close encounter with a then-unknown species of red sharks. While the public opinion of the time portrayed all sharks as bloodthirsty monsters, that one different. From there on, the priest became completely enthralled by that new type of creatures, and spent the remainder of his life studying them. After his death at the hands of one of the native tribes that were less willing to accept the new religion, Father Bernard was canonised as Saint by his patron and close friend, Pope Gilbert III.
Let this be known to all men and women of the God: no harm is to be done to any of the creatures known to us as "red sharks", other than what is necessary to preserve your life or the lives of your brothers and sisters in faith; for they are God's creatures, and shall thus be protected with our utmost dedication.
I would strongly advise you against reading that book, young man. Nothing good would come out of it.With all the diaries, papers and book on the subject growing in number as time goes by, a few controversial points in the species' description are being brought up ever more frequently. First of them concerns the red sharks' apparent vengefulness against those who would get themselves involved in a shark hunt. Although the very fact of such link is not strictly proven, many scholars nowadays attribute it to being able to smell the shark blood left on the clothes rather than their intelligence. The second and more important point, however, concerns the reasons why Saint Bernard's sharks are rarely seen in places with a strong Gracious Wind present. Some scholars start voicing their opinions that it may be caused not by red sharks "protecting people from monsters" but just those sharks being magic creatures themselves. Obviously, that position gets those scholars into a direct confrontation with the church, as it goes against both the knowledge left by a canonised Saint and a Papal Bull.
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This article has been inspired by Tris, who loves sharks just waaay too much.
THESE SHARKS ARE SO NICE HOLY ANVIL I LOVE THEM AND I WANNA PROTECT THEM ALL <3 <3 <3